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Peter LaFuria, right, and attorney Glen Vamvoras. (American Press Archives)

Peter LaFuria, right, and attorney Glen Vamvoras. (American Press Archives)

Detective testifies in motion to suppress evidence hearing for LaFuria trial

Last Modified: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 11:21 PM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

Detective Liz Zaunbrecher, supervisor over the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office’s sex crimes and severe child abuse unit, said she first realized there may have been an issue with the warrant used to search Peter LaFuria’s truck when his attorney, Glen Vamvoras, called her to request for a copy.

LaFuria, a former Lake Charles gynecologist, is charged with 186 counts of video voyeurism, 78 counts of sexual battery and five counts of molestation of a juvenile in a case that extends back to 2007.

Zaunbrecher was the last person to testify Tuesday in a motion to suppress evidence hearing that began Oct. 11 and has lasted three days. But the motion was again continued, this time to Nov. 26, when prosecutors and defense attorneys failed to agree over documents to be entered into evidence.

Judge David Ritchie said he would not rule on the motion until December.

The documents in question are titled “CPSO Evidence Logs,” which Vamvoras wanted entered into evidence, but prosecutor Cynthia Killingsworth said the logs are not official documents used by the CPSO.

The motion will be continued unless the two sides can come to an agreement.

The defense filed the motion to suppress, saying that the search warrant did not cover LaFuria’s pickup truck, since the wording was for LaFuria’s medical practice and vehicles on the premises.

Detective Patty Bailey testified previously that she believed LaFuria’s truck to be covered by the warrant.

Zaunbrecher said several times Tuesday that she would have preferred the search warrant be worded in a more “traditional sense.”

Prosecutor Cynthia Killingsworth asked her if that meant that she thought the warrant should have contained “more specific information.”

“Yes,” Zaunbrecher replied.

She said the search warrant template used by Bailey had not been used by her office before. Bailey was responsible for writing the warrant and having it signed by a judge, she said.

Bailey initially took a search warrant to Judge Rick Bryant that included LaFuria’s medical practice and all vehicles on the premises, as well as his home and all vehicles on the premises, but Bryant said he would first only allow the medical practice and the vehicles there.

Zaunbrecher said that prior to the search she had read the original warrant, but not the amended warrant.

Vamvoras asked her if the house, as well as the vehicles at the house, had been deleted on the revised warrant.

“Yes, sir,” Zaunbrecher said.

Zaunbrecher said that before searching the truck, she and Bailey had discussed whether the vehicle was covered by the warrant. She said there was no doubt in Bailey’s mind that the search warrant covered the vehicle and that the search would not be complete until the vehicle was examined.

Vamvoras asked her if a search warrant has to be particular about a vehicle or that the vehicle be on the premises.

“That’s the way I would prefer it,” Zaunbrecher said.

She said that when Vamvoras called her to request a copy, “I pulled it to see what was wrong. I knew if you were asking for it, something was amiss.”

A bag of cameras and CDs was removed from LaFuria’s truck. The second disc removed from the bag, titled “pics,” contained photos of women taken in a medical setting and was the “reference” that led investigators to also search LaFuria’s house, Zaunbrecher said.

No cameras were found at his medical practice, Zaunbrecher said.

She said that LaFuria had admitted taking a photo of a woman’s genitals without her permission, although he said he had done so for medical purposes. Thus, investigators were specifically searching for a camera in the vehicle, she said.

“At that point it wouldn’t have been ‘if there is a camera,’ but ‘where is the camera?’” Zaunbrecher said.

She said there was “absolutely” probable cause to search the truck but also affirmed that the Sheriff’s Office did not have information that the camera was in the truck.

The woman who first accused LaFuria reported on Friday, April 20, 2007, that she believed he had taken pictures of her without her knowledge. Law enforcement executed the search warrant Tuesday, April 24.

Vamvoras also questioned Zaunbrecher about why evidence logs did not show the origins of evidence taken from the truck.

Debbie Dilts, a nurse who worked for LaFuria for more than 20 years, also testified Tuesday. She said she was at the office April 24 when detectives searched the practice.

Dilts said she had never seen or knew of photos of unclothed patients being taken.

She said LaFuria did surgery in the morning of Monday, April 23, then came into the office, but another doctor in the practice, Dr. Karen Fisher, asked him to leave because the office employees were upset.

Dilts said she called LaFuria on Tuesday to ask him to come to the office and explain to her what was going on. She said he never came, although he called, but when she got to the phone there was no one on the other line. When she called him back, LaFuria’s wife told her he was outside with sheriff’s detectives, Dilts said.

Dilts said she was able to identify some of the women in the photos, including friends and family.

Killingsworth asked her if she knew of a reason photos would be taken.

“No,” she replied.

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